We can say with certainty that we are living in the era of Inbound Marketing. While before was completely normal to use Outbound Marketing and push ads and content to your audience that is not interesting to them, that has changed with the coming of the internet and online search. Now, we have started to craft content and ads that are interesting, useful and educational for our audience, and this is where Inbound Marketing starts. Therefore crafting the right Inbound Marketing Strategy is complex work in which we have to consider many factors.
I this article we’ll explain what inbound marketing is, what makes it effective and how you can craft an inbound strategy from scratch:
- What is Inbound Marketing?
- What are 5 Key Pieces of Inbound Marketing
- How To Set-up The Right Inbound Marketing Strategy
Let’s start by clarifying:
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound Marketing is a business methodology that is all about attracting and enabling the customer to find you through valuable content, SEO, lead nurturing, email marketing, social media marketing.
While Outbound Marketing interrupts your audience, Inbound Marketing wants to attract, educate and form a relationship with your audience.
Every customer wants to achieve some goal or solve some problem and your job as a marketer is to enable them to do this with your content. Your content should lead your customer through a journey and educate them in a way that he can naturally solve his problem.
The better you know your audience the better you will be able to write quality content for them. Educational and helpful content will create long-term relationships with your audience and make you a resource that they can come back to when they need it.
“Inbound marketing is about creating one-to-one relationships that have a lasting impact on your visitors and your brand.” – HubSpot
To create this kind of relationship you should draw out your customers with helpful content, email marketing, chats, by being empathic and developing real expertise in your field.
The 3 methods that you can use to achieve lasting relationships is to: Attract, Engage, Delight and Repeat.
Before starting any relationship you have to know who you want to attract. The best way to do this is by creating your buyer persona. Creating the profile of your ideal customer will allow you to step into his/her shoes, and see things from their perspective.
Once you know your buyer personas you can align your content to suit their needs and attract them with your content.
Once you understand what their roadblocks and pain points are, you should try to engage with them.
Present the insights and solutions that align with their goals, this will make it more likely for your audience to buy from you.
Deliver an experience that will capture your prospects, starting with a website’s design, following their needs through the customer journey, or simply by trying to find out more in-depth about their needs, interest and experience.
In this phase, the goal is to empower people, offer help and support so that they can get the maximum out of your service/product.
If you know how to truly empower and delight your customers they will most probably recommend you to other prospects or come back to you.
In this stage, you should also ask your prospects for feedback to improve your future processes.
These processes are circular, and you should constantly repeat them and improve upon them. Our surroundings are constantly changing, and so you should constantly improve and test what works best and how you can improve your processes.
5 Key pieces of Inbound Marketing Strategy are:
- Buyer personas
- Buyer’s journey
A contact is anyone your company markets to, partners with, engages and sells, basically anyone you have a relationship with.
Your marketing, sales and customer service teams (if you have them) should all use the same contacts you are targeting, and have a consistent brand strategy and messaging throughout all the channels.
A strong contact database is a key that can enable your business to grow. The more data you gather it will be easier to identify which contacts you can help and eventually delight.
Also, you want to be able to segment your contacts in the different stages of the buyer’s journey and adapt your content accordingly.
Inbound marketing is focused on attracting customers through relevant content. To be able to do this, first, you have to craft your buyer persona.
Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer audience. Choose audiences that are most likely to become customers.
To define your ideal buyer persona you should have the data about their demographics, behaviours, motivations, business pain points, goals, interests.
That information you can find by creating thorough research, analysis and by taking a look and talking to your existing customers from your contact base.
In your CRM you can find the contacts you can use to start, through your NPS survey results, company testimonials, through social media listening and within your or competitors online communities and social media accounts.
However, it is not enough to know who you want to reach, you should also know what information your buyer personas are looking for.
The buyer’s journey is an active research process someone goes through that leads to purchasing.
The 3 stages of a Buyer’s journey are:
Awareness – Consideration – Decision stage
In the awareness stage, the customer is starting to be aware that he has a problem or he sees an opportunity.
In the consideration stage, he is naming the problem/opportunities and starting to look for a solution.
In the decision stage, he is researching and compiling the list of all possible products/services that are going to solve his problem.
The customers can reach you at any stage; therefore it is crucial to have the content ready for each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Inbound marketing can’t exist without the content.
Content + Context = Inbound Marketing
Context is for who you are creating your content for.
When you are writing your content and thinking about the context of your text, you have to have in mind the most important thing, and that is your buyer persona. Many companies focus on the search engine and what they think the user wants to see, without really researching their interest.
When your content marketing is done correctly it helps you in creating a relationship with your audience, which leads to trust.
Content is essential for your inbound marketing strategy because it delivers the message you want to convey to your audience.
Your Content and Inbound marketing should lead your customers through different stages of the buyer’s journey, nurture them and convert into leads. It doesn’t stop there, it should convert your leads into delighted customers.
Both, Inbound Marketing and Content have a goal of empowering and educating customers and building a long-term relationship.
The inbound marketing plan should include content as it’s biggest asset but not the only one.
When you start setting up your Inbound marketing strategy, you should have in mind the goals you want to achieve.
One of the main benefits of inbound marketing over outbound marketing is that it is easier to measure the performance of marketing efforts.
Some of your marketing goals can be more subscribers, more traffic to the website, more sales, more followers on social media. But make sure when you make your plans that they are actually supporting your company goals.
If your goal is to reach 5000 followers, ask yourself if those followers help your company increase ROI or any other goal your company wants to achieve.
Set goals that will help show your company how your marketing efforts help the company grow.
Now that we understand why these 5 factors are so important for crafting inbound marketing strategy let’s take a look at:
What actions should we take to set up the right Inbound Marketing Strategy?
We have our key pieces of Inbound Marketing Strategy set. Now we have to set up our long term Inbound Marketing Strategy.
The 6 steps we have to set up right to get the desired outcome are:
Understanding your audience (MQLs)
Craft your buyer persona and your approach to a buyer persona together with all the departments in your company (sales, marketing, customer support, product designers…).
Share this profile within your department, and make sure that all of you are sending the same message, the company tone and voice, branding, in general, make sure to be consistent.
“At Zengrowth, we did detailed profiling of our existing customers to break down their demographics, their psychographics and we also identified their business motivations, objections and pain points to develop deeper insights. Through this info, we created identifiable buyer personas to bring them to life. Today, every piece of content we create is targeted towards these buyer personas.”- Viral Savla, Marketing Consultant, Zengrowth
The sales funnel is something that marketers are already familiar with. Each stage of the sales funnel has its own need and approach, and it is very important that the right type of content and information is provided for customers in each stage of the funnel.
In the infographic below you can see what are the different approaches the company can use at each stage of the funnel:
Here is how Alexandra Cote, Content marketing and SEO strategies at Zengrowth is going about her content planning for the different stages of the funnel:
“One thing you’ll only realize after years of creating content is that having a plan to cover content for all stages of the sales funnel is the first prerequisite for a successful inbound content strategy. Unfortunately, many brands bump into this problem way too often. Most commonly because they’ve only written top-of-the-funnel content in an attempt to get their content to rank higher. In doing so, they neglect other goals like helping people evaluate an offer or turning them into actual leads rather than just readers. Another common mistake is to fill your blog with product updates and nothing educational to turn your brand and website into a go-to resource.
Start by creating an editorial calendar that’s strongly focused on SEO content that targets new audiences who are at the top of the funnel. In between these, you can add in product updates, case studies, reports and findings, interviews and podcasts, tutorials, and more to also put together content for the middle of the funnel and the bottom of the funnel. This way, your blog will have something for everyone. Not to mention you’ll have multiple goals met from boosting your web traffic to gaining new leads, increasing brand awareness, and so much more. ” – Alexandra Cote, SaaS Content and SEO Strategist
We already mentioned that Inbound marketing can’t exist without content. That is why a big part of inbound marketing is actually a content audit.
Here at Zengrowth, we are doing a content audit to improve our existing content in the way that it attracts, reaches and delights audiences in a better way.
When doing an audit you have to:
- evaluate the quality and effectiveness of your content
- think of how you can improve user experience
- how you can attract more people to your website by improving your SEO
- enhance your content efficiency
- improve your website technically
- change the content format to reach more customers
“When doing a content audit we have one main thought on our mind and that is developing trust by sharing information, literally as much information as possible, because it turns you into a credible source. You have to basically remove the “sell” and just “help”.
When you start, as you said, you base your content on the buyer persona and your content plan should be all about how you can help them.” – Adriana Stein, Content Marketing and SEO Specialist at Zengrowth
A content audit looks at how we can improve content across all the channels and a campaign audit looks at how previous campaigns have performed and how we can improve on them.
When doing a campaign audit take a look at:
- what parts of the campaign performed well
- what elements underperformed
- if you achieve your objectives
- how did the audience respond to your campaign
- how your campaign performed on each channel (social, website, search, email)
“While auditing past marketing campaigns it’s important to share your findings with your team/boss/client. Don’t overdo it though. I’ve seen many times heavy PDF files with lots of pages that were automatically generated and had no actionable insights. This is not the real audit, and probably no one’s going to read it.
Focusing on a number of pages (or slides) and a layout for the document to look “professional” is a common mistake, while the most useful audit, in my opinion, contains a few main conclusions supported by data. Quality over quantity. Pareto rule should be a signpost here because not every element of the marketing mix is equally important.” – Kajetan Walczak, Performance Marketing Specialist at Zengrowth
Go to Market Plan
Your market plan gives life to continuous communication with your audience.
There are 2 main things you have to keep in mind: your Content Calendar and your Content Promotion Plan.
Your Content Calendar serves you to gather all of the content ideas, titles, themes and organize them into a calendar of activities.
When creating your content calendar ask yourself:
- what objectives, goals and ideas of your business strategy are you trying to achieve
- what stories you want to tell that will be relevant to your audience as well
- how your audience will react to each piece of content
Your Content Promotion Plan should be based on your Content Calendar. Think about how you want to publish your content and on which channels.
Create for yourself a list of all the potential channels you want to publish your content on and what type of content will work the best for each channel. Constantly update and test with your Content promotion plan.
“When it comes to organic content distribution, my number one recommendation is to look within. That is, tapping into the networks of your colleagues to share your content in an authentic and human-centric way. Why? People want to read content from people they are comfortable with – not so much from content posted from company pages – but from people, they feel connected to and trust.” – Nicole Gottselig, Senior Content Marketing Manager
This is the final step of your Inbound Marketing Strategy, but one of the most important ones. It is important to know how to measure your performance and gather insights to make optimizations.
“Some of the metrics we look at when it comes to evaluating how we are doing with our content marketing efforts are page views, time spent on the page, and bounce rates. This shows us how we are doing in getting traffic to our website/blog, how relevant our content is and if it’s the right audience we attract.” – Katrin Marx, Interim COO at Zengrowth
Inbound marketing is a vital part of your marketing strategy. If you set up your inbound marketing strategy right the benefits of this hard work you will reap for a long time.
Building a relationship with your audience based on trust and making sure you are providing them with the content they need at all the stages of the funnel will make you an industry authority and go-to reference.
Need help with your Inbound Marketing Strategy, our experts would be happy to help you.